SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- COVID hospitalizations across the Bay Area just reached the highest point since March as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads rapidly.
ABC7's data analysis found the Bay Area's average daily COVID case rate is four times more than what was reported a mere three weeks ago.
In the beginning of July, on average 231 new daily COVID cases were reported across the Bay Area. A mere three weeks later on July 21, that daily average is 978 new COVID cases.
"It's unbelievable," said Dr. Maria Raven, the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UCSF. "I didn't expect to see this, given our high rates of vaccination."
Raven says the next two weeks will be the most crucial time period to assess whether the masking recommendation will turn into a mandate.
"I think the next two weeks is going to tell us a lot because it's going to continue to give us more data on the Delta variant and what it's causing among these breakthrough infections in vaccinated people," she said.
In the past couple weeks UCSF reported around 20 breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals - most with mild symptoms, but some patients were still hospitalized.
"We've been seeing around one to two a day," said Raven. "It gives me pause, because it's not what I thought what we're going to see... people that are coming to the emergency department that are worried they have COVID and have symptoms."
In early July, UCSF had zero COVID hospitalizations and by July 23 the emergency room has 17 hospitalized patients - 10 of which are in the ICU. That same trend rising across the Bay Area at a rate we haven't seen since March.
"So we do expect that the number of infections will keep going up for at least a few weeks," said Stanford Infectious Disease Physician Yvonne Maldonado. "We expect hospitalizations to follow."
Dr. Maldonado says there's never been a more dangerous time for unvaccinated people.
In roughly the past month, both COVID hospitalizations and ICU admissions have more than doubled. On June 22, there were 166 hospitalizations across the Bay Area - that jumped to 412 hospitalizations on July 21. During that same time period, ICU admissions spiked from 50 to 119.
"I'm worried about the fall in particular when we generally tend to see more people indoors and worry about other viruses as well," said Maldonado.
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